Thursday 18 December 2003

Behind the upfront deal lies a better offer

The Netherlands
The mobile phone operators market in the Netherlands has seen the influx of other European players; this both consolidates and introduces healthy competition in the market.
The customer ends up with a lot of choice, if they have any understanding about what to choose.
Moving to the Netherlands almost four years ago represented a seismic culture shock, which catches every career professional émigré by surprise. These were ones experiences; some have already changed for the better since then.
To be more specific that main thing to have in mind is that Amsterdam to the tourist is a lot different to Amsterdam for the new resident.
The Supermarkets
The supermarkets in the Netherlands were not of the quality seen in the UK. First the shelf arrangements; the only logic one could see was that things were in alphabetic order.
Antiseptics, Apples, Apricots; Tampons, Tomatoes, Towels; Salt, Sweets, Spoons. Apart from the fact that the names were a lot different - Tomato Beans (Baked Beans), SnelKookRijst (Long grain parboiled rice).
The till queues sometimes were so long and then some smart tiller decides to close a needed till anyhow; I just was not prepared for this, and a few times I just put things back on the shelves and walked out in disgust.
The Stores
Rarely do you get a complement, "This is the first time anyone has walked into this store prepared". May one generalise saying, the Dutch do not spend time researching what they require on a shopping trip.
Rather a shopping expedition is made a nightmare for other prepared people by customers who get the tillers to do all the research when they should be taking payments off customers who with goods in hands are about to sling them at that tiresome, undecided customer who might eventually not buy anything.
The compliment came from having researched what new phone one wanted, bringing in ones old mobile phone contract just in case any information needed to be transferred to the renewed contract.
The Queues
Do not even think of it. I once was the only one at a bus stop having just missed the previous bus. When the next one arrived, one could hardly find standing room.
However, once whilst returning from England, the same attitude became evident that I remonstrated. "We do queue in this country" to the surprise but eventual adherence of the miscreants.
Despair and be served
I used to say, the Netherlands is a lovely place to live in until you require service. One issue stands out when one phoned a service company and was kept waiting for 2 hours 20 minutes - by which time one could sing the whole on-hold music by heart.
Eventually, when the call was answered, I was put back in the queue for another 20 minutes because one could not speak Dutch.
The service company has improved considerably with the mission statement "Putting the customer at the heart of everything we do" I see myself served graciously and enthusiastically nowadays.
Estate agents
They made a large profit during the boom years up until the middle of 2001. Having the gall to charge deposits and commissions up to half the short-term lease of 6 months. If the opportunity arises, buy a house.
Europeans and resident permits - British Consulate view
Do I need a residence permit to live in the Netherlands?
We strongly recommend that you apply for a residence permit. As an EU citizen, you are legally exempt from the obligation to apply for a residence permit (verblijfsvergunning).
However, local practice is such that difficulties are likely to arise if you do not have one. For example, banks, health insurance companies and some employers may ask to see your residence document before entering into a contract with you. It is therefore advisable to apply for a residence permit from the Aliens Police Service (Vreemdelingenpolitie).
If one read that correctly, one can do without it, because one is legally exempt; however, it can be useful if one is entering into a contract where the contractor needs more assurance that one is here to stay.
I only wish someone included this in the study packs used for training immigration officers; I still get harassed for not having one anytime I fly into the country. One should intimate that one has obtained all privileges including a mortgage without having the absurd permit.
Road works
My view is the jobless statistics are low because every activity to do with road building, pavements and pedestrian areas is done six times. One does not need to prove this. Just check out any construction works over the period of 6 months and gaze in bewilderment why, they have come back again.
They all speak, surely not English
In general, the Dutch are basic polyglots. Polyglots in the sense that they speak at least two languages, usually three, apart of from the mother tongue, their command of English is rather rudimentary.
There are exceptional cases but it becomes obvious in the use of the following malapropisms.
Bring for bringing here and taking there.
They welcome in rather than welcome to or welcome aboard.
They borrow for borrowing and lending.
Formal email almost always includes hereby for herein or enclosed.
Double Dutch
My view is that the reason why Dutch is a difficult language is, you need to be word perfect for the Dutch to understand whatever you say. If you fall at that hurdle, they immediately switch to English without trying to help you out of the lingual rut.
Do not expect your acquaintances to help, the issue of teaching Dutch requires you go learn it out of sight and return a Dutch person. You learn Dutch through determination against and in spite of the odds, they are a proud people.
The Orange SPV E200 mobile phone
I was offered a deal to renew my mobile phone contract over the phone, but on further research I found, I could get a deal a lot better than the offer.
Therefore, on a new 2-year renewal, one got the Orange SPV E200 SmartPhone and a blue tooth headset all covered in the new contract.
Reviews later.

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